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Boots for hiking vs boots for backpacking

Posted: Monday, October 21, 2013

Hi Jan!

I’ve been looking into boots and I was checking out the Keen’s Targhee II Mid Hiker that you prefer. The guy at REI suggested I go with something a bit more stout (backpacking boot vs hiking boot) since it is a multi-day backpacking trip, rather than just a day hike. Do you have an opinion on that mindset?

Let me know what you think.

Hi Beth

 


Wow --- asking me if I have an opinion is sometimes quite dangerous --- and (surprise, surprise) I do have an opinion.

The Grand Targhee II mid hiker is actually a pretty 'stout' boot and is considered a backpacking boot and not just a hiking boot.   Unless you have some medical issues with either your feet or your ankles the lighter you can go, still maintaining support both in the ankle area and on the sole of the boot --- the better.

My preference is to have some ankle support  (so the mid height is perfect) and have a sole with at least a 1/2 shank support and thick vibram (or vibram-like) soles.  Many backpackers are good with the lower shoe-like profile of other boots that are even more lightweight.  The Keen company has actually added a great innovation to their Grand Targhee II hiking shoe  --- a tightening mechanism that holds the heel in place much better than before.  You may even want to give them a try.

We will also be carrying 30 pounds or less which makes a difference.  Perhaps the guy at REI is not familiar with Lightweight Backpacking and is thinking heavier loads?  I've actually not heard of anyone thinking the Grand Targhee II is not a backpacking boot.

I'd also like to interject that recently a couple of the women who have taken the Intro trip and have continued to do the Appalachian Section trips with me have gone from the heavier, full leather (really stout) boots to either the Grand Targhee or the Asolo boot that is similar.

Best scenario --- buy the boots that feel the best in the store and take some hikes in them.  If you find that for some reason you feel you need a heavier (or even a lighter) boot then REI will take them back as trade in.

Remember --- no matter which boot you purchase to get at least 1/2 - 1 size larger than you normally buy and do purchase a pair of Superfeet (or the equivalent) to use as the inner soles.  The inner soles of even the best boot are not sufficient for comfort --- just toss 'em!  You'll love the Superfeet!

I love these kind of questions!  --- can't wait to hear more of the story.

 

Jan

 

P.S.  Just so you know, I checked with my local REI store and spoke with their 'shoe person' and she was quite surprised that you received this advice.  Their training is in line with what I also advocate --- the lighter the better (barring any medical/physical issues) and the 'stouter' boot is generally recommended only for carrying 60 pounds and/or for winter and over and even then, they still feel that you should purchase the lightest weight boot your feet can handle.  I would take this guy's advice 'with a grain of salt' though.

 

 

Have a gear question? Ask Jan, our very own gear head!

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